BJJ Journey - Matt
Just as in life, everyone has a different BJJ journey. We all learn at different speeds, and have different physical tools. Each journey is personal, and they are all perfectly equal, just as they are all beautiful. What does your journey look like?
We asked a few of our students to tell us about their individual journey, in the hope that this would inspire and educate others. Plus so they could share the page with their friends :-)
Here is Matt's story...
1. When and why did you start training BJJ?
I was introduced to BJJ in the late 90's by a close friend, Justin Bendsneyder. He was training for MMA competition and he needed a training partner. I think I was 27 at the time and loved to work out and stay fit. Boxing was one of my favorite sports so I was very intrigued about this "ground" game called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. We trained everywhere we could from empty rentals on the carpet, to out on the front lawn. We made mats out of foam and duct tape - it was pretty ghetto but we didn't care. My initial goals were to learn a different way to fight, help my friend get better for competition and become a more rounded fighter in the process. Staying in good shape was also important. We trained a lot of stand up as well, but I was amazed at how effective BJJ was to not only defend attacks, but also to achieve dominant positions on the ground. I instantly was addicted!
2. Tell us about your BJJ journey so far…
After about 2 years of initial training, my journey was cut short as my priorities switched to raising a family. Looking back on this decision, I regret stopping, but I wanted to be there for my wife and kids as they grew up. Plus they totally support me now as I try to make up for lost time.
Recommitting to the art in February of 2014, it was extremely disappointing to find out that Jiu-Jitsu is not at all like riding a bike! I had lost so much technique I felt like I was starting all over again. I found myself overcompensating with brute force and quickly discovered this approach was just plain stupid. It led to unnecessary injuries, and at 41 years old, I wasn't healing as fast as I used to. Not to mention missing all of the opportunities to learn because I was trying to move way too fast. I now try to roll slower so I can study the art while it's happening and focus on learning and honing technique. This is a much better approach and also easier on the body.
My greatest inspiration in BJJ is by far my good buddy Justin Bendsneyder. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't have been introduced to the art, nor inspired to resume in my 40's. As a close friend and a brown belt himself, he's always encouraged me to stick with it and taught me a great deal of core fundamentals and effective techniques. He's been an excellent coach and friend all the way from the days when we first trained in the front yard grass, until now. My second inspiration would have to be my nephew Jimmy Halchisack. He and I are very close and by coincidence, he started training BJJ down in Huntington Beach around the same time I did. He is quickly approaching his Brown belt after many years of commitment and hard training.
For me, Jiu-Jitsu has helped my confidence in just about every life situation. I can get stressed and pretty high strung at times, but training eases this tremendously. I am much more relaxed overall and I can more easily cope with life-stresses. I was also surprised at the camaraderie that is established with your training partners. You meet people that you wouldn't normally hang out with, from all walks of life, and there is a bond and brotherhood created like nothing else I've seen. Deep friendships can be created through training because you learn to trust your training partners with your best interest and safety.
3. What are your future BJJ goals?
My goal is pretty much the same as everyone else - to continue to get better at BJJ. There is so much to learn that it can be overwhelming at times, but it's so good for the soul and totally worth it. I want to pass what I learn onto my kids as well.
I'm not going to lie, I would also love have my black belt - some time before my kids put me in the old folks home...
4. What advice would you give your BJJ-beginner self?
My advice for beginners would be to go slow. Go slow to avoid injury and seize the opportunity to learn more. Also, don't force your movements. If something doesn't feel right, then back up and go a different direction. Your body will thank you for this. Come in with humility and respect for the people that have dedicated years to the art. Lastly, and most importantly, have fun! Some days will be hard and you'll feel like you have taken steps backwards, but don't let that get you down. It's all part of the journey (so people keep telling me).
Special thanks to Roy Dean for his flowing style and instruction. And, to Paul Moresi for his smashing style, coaching & instruction, as well as pushing me beyond my physical limits. Thank God for BJJ.